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Russian Pleads Guilty In Massive Computer Hacking Scam

  • RFE/RL

A Russian man has pleaded guilty for his role in a massive computer hacking scheme, the second such plea this week stemming from what authorities say was the largest such hack in the United States.

Dmitriy Smilyanets, of Moscow, entered his plea on September 16 in U.S. federal court in New Jersey in response to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The U.S. Justice Department accused Smilyanets of being part of a gang that sold some of the 160 million credit and debit card numbers that were stolen in the hacking scheme that ran from 2005 to 2012.

The prominent U.S. and foreign companies breached included NASDAQ, Carrefour, Dow Jones, Jet Blue, and major retail stores. But worst hit was a New Jersey-based company called Heartland Payment Systems, which had some 130 million card numbers stolen from it.

Officials said Smilyanets was in charge of selling the credit card information around the world. He faces up to 30 years in prison.

On September 15, a Russian-American man named Vladimir Drinkman also pleaded guilty for his role in the scheme.

The arrest of Drinkman and Smilyanets, who were arrested in Europe and extradited to the United States, has prompted loud complaints from Russia, which said the United States was wrongly seeking to impose its laws around the world.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry specifically cited the case of Drinkman in a warning to Russian citizens, saying they could be detained or arrested by U.S. law enforcement or intelligence agencies.

Three men in the case—two reportedly live in Russia, one in Ukraine -- are still being sought.

With reporting by AP